Dates of Dongzhi
Dongzhi, also known as Dongji is celebrated annually on or around 22 December.
It is a public holiday in Macau. It is not a public holiday in other parts of East Asia, such as China, Taiwan and Korea, but remains an important and popular festival.
In Chinese, Dongzhi means 'extreme of winter' and the Dongzhi festival marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere
The winter solstice occurs when the earth is tilted at its maximum annual angle away from the sun creating the day with the shortest amount of daylight.
The solstice marked the middle of winter in many ancient cultures. Noting the arrival of the shortest day, was a time for celebration.
Of course, winter wouldn't end for several months, but to know that you were past the middle and the dark, cold nights would start to get shorter was an event to be marked by feasts and rituals.
This turning point of the year is an important aspect of Dongzhi with a traditional custom in parts of China being that on Dongzhi everyone turns one year older.
Certainly the festival is a time to gather with your family and a common activity in southern China is the making and eating of a sweet soup containing balls of glutinous rice, called tangyuan, which symbolise reunion.
In Korea, a traditional food to eat on Dong-Ji is Patjuk, a red bean porridge. The custom is that the red colour of the porridge can ward off evil spirits and cure sickness.